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Why do I ache the day (or two) after exercise?

The muscle soreness you feel a day or two after exercise is a phenomenon call ‘delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).’

DOMS can certainly be an unpleasant experience for new exercisers!

Rest assured though that it is certainly not a muscle sprain or strain, rather a normal physiological response that will lead your body to improvements in muscle strength, endurance, and tone.

It is normal for DOMS to last for ~ 48hrs and then decrease in intensity after that time.

How does it happen?

It is thought that it results from micro tears (and potentially swelling) in the muscle fibres. The amount of tears will depend on your muscles/body’s ability to cope with the particular exercise intensity or workout. So any movements can potentially lead to DOMS.

How to treat it?

Unfortunately there is no one proven way to treat DOMS 🙁 , however I would advise that you try the following:

Active cool down (enhancing blood flow to those ‘exercised’ areas),

Gentle stretching (and/or yoga) – it normally feels pretty good!

Get a massage (to potentially reduce swelling),

An ice bath or contrast water bath – some athletes swear by them.

Wait it out…your body will sort everything out within 3-5 days (if extreme) + no extra treatment 🙂

NB If the muscle pain or soreness remains for longer than a week then you really need to consult with a health professional as this is unlikely to be DOMS.

How to prevent?

Undertake an active warm up and cool down before and after your workout.

If you are not receiving expert instruction, start gradually with all new exercise activity and progress slowly.

Seek expert guidance to ensure your workout program is safe and effective.

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